As Major League Baseball heads into the All-Star break two players stood out for me personally this week. Being a former pitcher, surprisingly neither of them are pitchers. Instead, they are two hitters from the American League, Mike Trout and David Ortiz.
First, there is David Ortiz. Big Papi this week became the leader in hits by a designated hitter. Ortiz is 37 years old and still going strong. It was just a few seasons ago when Ortiz looked to be at the end of a big career. He was hampered by injury and a contract was ending. But the Red Sox Nation resigned one of their faces of the organization and stood by their DH.
Remember when Ortiz broke into the league in 1997 as a Minnesota Twin? After six seasons he moved over to Yawkey Way and became a star. He is a two time World Series Champion and in 2004 carried the Red Sox through that epic playoff series against the Yankees. It was that series where the Sox were down 3 games to 0, and then just so happened to win 4 games in a row. They also won another 4 in a row to break the curse of the Bambino.
David Ortiz has hit over 30 home runs in six of his 17 seasons. The question with this most recent milestone is where does he rank among all time designated hitters? With all due respect to Harold Baines, Edgar Martinez, and Frank Thomas, Big Papi has to be number one. He has played the game the right way, he is a champion, and plays the game with a sense of flair. He has put a Nation on his big back and helped break a long over due curse.
Then there is Mike Trout. Trout is only 21 years old and has completed just one season. But in that season he was the runaway Rookie of the Year, and very nearly the MVP finishing second. He is lighting fast on the bases, scales walls in a single bound on defense, and the ball just jumps off of his bat in the batters box.
I recently was able to see Mike Trout play in person for the first time. Walking away from the game, the reaction was simply Wow. In person, he is all of those things you see on television and then some. On the bases and in the field he is super fast and my goodness, the sound the baseball makes when coming off of his bat is a loud noticeable pop. The thing that sets him apart is that all of these tools in his bag, he does them all with ease. A comparison would be to a young Ken Griffey Jr. He leaves you in awe.
With the break approaching, a migration back to the love of the pitcher will follow, but this week, it was a man crush for some hitters.
In closing, a friend of mine has told me that her fantasy baseball team is still in last place… Thanks Stephen Strasburg.